Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia met with Josh Hamilton this week for the first time in months and said he isn’t sure when the star will return to the team.
Scioscia said he had dinner with Hamilton on Wednesday night when the Angels arrived in Houston for a series that begins Friday night. It was the first time Scioscia had seen Hamilton since the slugger self-reported a relapse into substance abuse.
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Scioscia says the former AL MVP is making progress in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
The manager declined to discuss many details of their meeting, except to say that Hamilton is running and hitting and that "there’s still some work he has to do before he’s ready to play a game."
Scioscia added that they’re "still searching for some clarity to the situation and only time’s going to give that to us."
But he did say repeatedly that it was great to see Hamilton and they had a nice visit. But he was vague when pressed for details about the off-the-field issues.
"The bottom line is really just still first and foremost to make sure he’s getting the help and support he needs and that’s how we feel," Scioscia said.
Hamilton will not be disciplined by Major League Baseball for his relapse. A four-person treatment board created by baseball’s joint drug program with the union was tied at a 2-2 vote on whether Hamilton should be disciplined. An arbitrator appointed to break the deadlock ruled that he would not.
The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million for the final three seasons of a five-year, $125 million contract he signed after a stellar five seasons with the Texas Rangers from 2008-12.
After meeting with Scioscia, Hamilton also spent time with several Angels on their off day Thursday, including pitcher C.J. Wilson, who was encouraged by the visit.
"I feel like he’s in a good place and he’s doing the right things," Wilson said. "He’s going through the counseling stuff that’s good for him. I feel like he’s ready to go in that regard."
Hamilton was out of baseball for three years to serve suspensions for his drug use and to get clean before reaching the majors in 2007 with Cincinnati. Soon after, he candidly revealed his past drug and alcohol abuse in a tell-all book. Wilson said he had a lot of questions about what happened and got Hamilton’s side of the story about his recent relapse.
"The story that he gave me about the incident specifically seemed like a very tame scenario compared to reading his book and some of the scenarios he got in that got him booted form baseball 14 years ago," Wilson said, refusing to elaborate. "In that regard I’d say he’s 100 percent functional in terms of that stuff."
Wilson said Hamilton has a lot of support in the Angels clubhouse and the pitcher believes he’s in the right state of mind to return to the field.
"He’s a baseballer," Wilson said. "He really wants to play. He’s feeling that momentum and energy internally."